Gaza’s blood stains all our hands
On Sunday, Israeli missiles targeted a home in Gaza City wiping out an entire family of eleven, including five women and four children. In another part of the city, other families were mourning their dead children. Even an 81-year-old woman couldn’t escape the IAF's deadly payload. Israel boasts about its precision systems and surgical strike capabilities and its cheerleaders become viciously defensive when Israel is accused of targeting civilians. So are we to suppose that those women and children were threats to the Jewish State undeserving of life? Gaza’s media centers have also been bombed, including the offices of Sky News and Al Aqsa TV. The eleven-month-old son of a BBC employee was another of Israel’s victims. From the perspective of international laws and conventions, attacking media personnel is a war crime.
In most unbiased people’s book bombing heavily populated civilian areas are war crimes, to be appended to the long list of Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity since the country was formed. There aren’t enough column inches on this page to list even a fifth of them but you will probably be somewhat familiar with the 1948 massacre of 148 villagers at Deir Yassin, innocents who were either shot or killed when hand grenades were thrown into their houses. You may remember the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps for which former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was found by an Israeli commission to have been indirectly responsible. And the Jenin refugee camp when Israel’s bulldozers downed homes on their occupants’ heads and used Palestinian children as human shields. The EU’s external relations commissioner blasted Israel for refusing to cooperate with a UN investigatory team that was only permitted to complete its work on site once all evidence had been cleaned-up.
In 2006, the Israeli military killed 1,300 Lebanese, targeted ambulances, schools and UN buildings — and later admitted using banned white phosphorus munitions. In 2008, Operation Cast lead robbed the lives of 1,400 Gazans, mostly women and children. The UN investigation into Israel’s onslaught on Gaza headed by a Jewish judge Richard Goldstone, found that Israel may be guilty of war crimes but under severe pressure from Tel Aviv, Goldstone tried to backtrack on his own findings.
The truth is inescapable. The international community and its bodies are too cowardly to say it like it is for fear of angering Israel’s protector the US. Israel is never held to account for its atrocities. It is never culpable because it has a permanent green light from Washington to do as it will because it has an inalienable right to defend itself. In other words the occupying nuclear-armed power that possesses state-of-the-art fighter jets, missiles, drones and tanks has every right to defend itself from its victims, a poorly-armed population crammed like sitting ducks onto 365 kilometers called the Gaza Strip.
The world has stood by watching for years doing nothing but tut-tut over the imprisonment of 1.5 million men, women and children who have to resort to dig underground tunnels just to find food, medicines and items essential for life. The international community has done nothing other than pay lip service to furthering a Palestinian state before Israel’s theft of Palestinian land will soon quash all hope. If even thousands of half-starved dogs and cats had been corralled in the way Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza are, vulnerable to bombs, there would be massive international outrage. Housewives in Surrey would be sobbing into their Earl Grey tea.
Our acceptance of the status quo is part of the problem. We’ve become apathetic vis-à-vis Palestinian suffering. The US and Israeli pro-Israel propaganda machine has turned morality on its head using our collective guilt over the Holocaust at every opportunity. We’ve bought into the concept of Jewish victimhood. We understand Israel’s slogan “Never again”. Jews must never be thrown into the sea and whatever suspect acts the Jewish state does to prevent that is fine with us. In the process, the true sons of Palestinians have been rendered untermenschen with our unwitting complicity; their lives don’t matter. Their rights, what rights? They’ve been abandoned for decades by international law, the United Nations that has a duty to uphold them and by the Arab League that just days ago acknowledged its own impotence.
In all fairness, Palestinian groups have indiscriminately killed civilians too, hijacking airliners, bombing buses and restaurants, and sending hails of rockets to Israel. Israeli children have been killed and that can never be defended. But the question is this. Why are Palestinian fighters deemed “terrorists” and why is Hamas viewed by the US and Europe as “a terrorist organization” when Israel isn’t shunned as a terrorist state? Can anyone deny that the Jewish State hasn’t been terrorizing Palestinians for over 60 years — demolishing homes, uprooting olive trees, erecting checkpoints, splitting villages with an apartheid wall, imprisoning children for throwing stones and jailing thousands of their parents without charge or trial. Compare the disparate statistics on Israeli and Palestinian fatalities to glimpse the real story.
Israel is poised to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, unless intermediaries like Egypt, Turkey and Qatar can broker a cease-fire on Tel-Aviv’s terms. Obama has made it clear that there’s not a chink of light between Israel and the US on this. So much for the ‘new Obama’ who many thought would stand against Israel’s crimes now that he no longer has re-election concerns and fulfill his promise to personally work toward a Palestinian state! His allegiance to Israel is unshakeable for all his moral posturing because he doesn’t dare rock the boat of America’s set-in-stone, pro-Israel foreign policy. And like mindless sheep, his country’s Western allies join his blame Hamas chorus.
Unless we, the people, grow a backbone and show our leaders and our media that the Palestinian situation will no longer be tolerated, nothing will be done. Boycotts against Israeli goods are ineffective. The only route to change is for the Muslim world to band together to form one policy, one that would hurt Israel’s big brother where it hurts most — in the pocket. Arab states should threaten to kick US bases from the region and seal military and economic pacts with Russia and China. Sorry, but sending an Arab League delegation to Gaza and producing condemnatory declarations won’t cut it. If the planet’s 1.6 billion Muslims can do nothing to halt Israeli aggression, then what are we, other than Uncle Sam’s slaves?